One of the best summer jobs I’ve had was a job where I worked with a music therapist, translating her lessons into Spanish. I got to know people with totally different lives from mine and got to know M, the music therapist I worked with. Working with people who spoke Spanish, mostly from El Salvador and Mexico, we got to know the truly authentic Mexican food in the neighborhood, even when it was basically being served out of a small shack. I grew to appreciate a simple combination that seems to dominate Mexican food: fresh veggies roasted well, rice and chicken, and cheese laced with spicy peppers. The dish called Arroz con Pollo captured my heart and I decided to try to simulate it with my own twists.
While many people use broccoli or onions with this dish, I chose a red and a yellow bell pepper and put them into the pan to fry while I worked on the chicken. I use butter as my oil, which I think adds flavor and you don’t need a lot of it to make the whole thing feel rich. I also threw on a pot of rice.
The real piece of work was a pepper jack cheese sauce that made everything else a bit spicier and definitely creamier. I started with a basic roux, added in equal parts coconut milk and sour cream (you could use other things, but that was what I had in the house). I took about a cup of grated pepper jack and added it bit by bit while whisking until I had a thick, spicy cheese sauce that was perfect for topping my arroz con pollo. It looked so bright and wonderful, white and red and yellow, that I called my version Fiesta Chicken. It got the Husband stamp of approval and I had it for lunch two days after, which is saying something given my lack of interest in most foods the second day.
While I winged it based on what I had in my fridge, this recipe for Pepper Jack Sauce might be a good guide for you: https://www.cabotcheese.coop/cabot-pepper-jack-cheese-sauce